Making and Maintaining Friendships During a Semester in DC

By Emma Kate Sowder| October 11, 2019

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One of the things I was most concerned about when coming to DC was making and maintaining friendships during a Semester in DC. This fear took two forms: maintaining my current friendships at my university while also making new friendships in DC.

Friends from Ohio State

On the one hand, I absolutely love my friends at home. I met my best friends’ freshman and sophomore year of college. While we have all been friends now for about 4 years, relative to some other friendships I have this felt, short. I was terrified that I would come to DC and all my friends would forget about me. That I would come back next semester and they would have moved on from me. While I realize this fear is far-fetched, leaving can be scary. In truth, my friends did have to move on. They had to adjust to life without me for a semester and it has been as hard for me just as it has been for them.

The same fear applies when moving to DC. I was moving into Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH) where I only knew one person and had never met two of my three roommates. I knew no one else in the house I would share with 15 people. I didn’t know anyone at work, where I would be every day. Even freshman year I had met my roommate and had a 4-hour coffee date with her before we moved in. This time I was going in completely blind, to a totally new situation with new people. Last year I had even had my own bedroom at school, so reverting back to shared space, especially with strangers, would be an adjustment. The whole situation was very nerve-racking. However, I was mostly concerned about making friends with my roommates and housemates.

The key to both of these problems is maintaining these relationships and putting in work. Any relationship takes work, whether it’s a mentorship, a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a family relationship. It needs both parties to be dedicated to communication and genuine caring. When it comes to my friends back in Ohio, I talk with them multiple times a week. I reach out to them; they reach out to me. I visit them, they visit me. When it came to making friends in DC, I put in work. My friends didn’t forget about me, they miss me as I miss them. I know when I eventually do return to Columbus, it will still feel like home.

My DC Roommates and Friends

In my WISH housing, I spent time with my roommates and housemates to get to know them better. I went to lunch with other interns at work, which turned into dinners, which turned into weekend get-togethers. Strangers quickly turned to lifelong friends. We now have inside jokes, nights where we all stay up late talking about politics or Ellen DeGeneres. Trader Joe’s trips became bonding sessions. My roommates are no longer just my roommates, they are truly my friends. At work, it has been the same way. When I don’t see my two closest work friends for a day at work, I miss them. We have a group chat and have made plans to hang out outside of work. They are no longer just coworkers; they are truly my friends.

Friendships are all about genuine caring, communication, and work. I care about my school friends, my house friends, and my work friends. In all situations, we were brought together by chance. We choose, every day, to continue to be friends because we enjoy each other’s company. While making and maintaining friendships in DC something any prospective intern would fear, with work and care, it can be easily resolved.

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